President Muhammadu Buhari has described the Seme-Krake joint border post between Nigeria and Benin Republic as vital to trade facilitation.
The facilitation, he said, would be achieved through combining border clearance activities in a single location, increase cooperation and coordination of controls.
He said it would also foster data and intelligence sharing between the two countries.
Buhari pointed out the importance of the facility on Tuesday during the official handing over ceremony of the joint border post.
He described the project, aimed at enhancing the free movement of persons and goods in the region, as ”a symbol of integration that brings together the peoples of Nigeria and Benin.”
”Indeed, the Seme-Krake joint border is one of the busiest boundary lines not only in West Africa but the whole continent, daily recording huge movement of persons, goods and services.
”Permit me therefore to congratulate my brother, President Patrice Talon of the Republic of Benin on the successful completion of this magnificent project.
”As we all know, Nigeria and Benin share many things in common. Hence, the establishment of the Joint Border Post will certainly promote our brotherliness and emphasize our common interest,” he said.
Describing the border post as strategically important he said it accounted for about 70% of the entire transit traffic in the sub-region.
”The corridor is also part of the Trans-African Highway network. This Joint Border Post with modern enabling facilities is a flagship project in ECOWAS and a good example of regional public assets with a spill-over range of benefits,’’ he added.
President Buhari also expressed optimism that the facilities at the border post would improve the working conditions of border officials and make them more efficient and effective in carrying out their duties.
He, therefore, urged border officials of both countries to ensure that their operations were carried out within the guiding principles of ECOWAS.
”I am aware that a Joint Committee with membership from Nigeria and Benin has been established for the coordination and management of this facility. I would like to call on the members of the committee to note the complex task ahead of them.
”The committee must ensure that border officials are sensitized on the mode of operation of the Joint Border Post concept which is a big departure from the traditional mode of operation. I call on the ECOWAS Commission to continue to provide the needed support to this Committee,” he said.
He expressed appreciation to the financial commitment of the European Union Commission to the project and the contributions of the ECOWAS Commission towards its successful completion.
He said inadequate transport infrastructure and inefficient services were some of the major bottlenecks to the attainment of socio-economic development and integration in the region.
”ECOWAS is a region where ports, roads, railways and airports still remain a constraint despite significant recent progress made.
”Nigeria has embarked on major investment programmes covering these sectors to improve the competitiveness of our economies and accelerate growth. We are therefore delighted to welcome such initiatives aimed at boosting the economic integration of our member States in West Africa,’’ he said.
In his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Buhari also thanked the EU for supporting two other joint borders at Malanville (between Benin/Niger) and Noepe-Akanu (between Ghana/Togo).